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(512) 466-4947

Steiner Ranch 5145 N RR 620, Suite G-120, Austin, TX 78732
Hutto 123 Ed Schmidt Blvd., Suite 100, Hutto, TX 78634


So, you've completed your orthodontic treatment, your smile is straight, your bite is solid.
Now, how do we keep it that way?

First, it is important to understand a few things about tooth movement AFTER orthodontics:

  1. #1 - Your teeth are the most vulnerable to movement (relapse) right after braces are removed or aligners are discontinued. It takes time for the surrounding gums, bone, and muscles to adjust to the new positioning of the teeth.
  2. #2 - The gum tissues around the teeth have a sort of memory. This “memory” makes teeth want to relapse, or return, to how they started. So, if you started with your left tooth overlapping your right tooth, it will tend to relapse back with the left wanting to cover the right again.
  3. #3 - Your teeth are never frozen, unmovable in your bone. Teeth endure some of the greatest forces in our body. They are surrounded by ligaments and bones that are designed to move and stretch to accommodate these forces. Your body is a biologic organism that is constantly undergoing cellular change. For these reasons, if you want to maintain your smile and bite, you’ll commit to retainers throughout your life.
  4. #4 - Some settling of the bite is helpful and expected after treatment. As you begin to use your teeth without braces/aligners in place, they will settle, or sink into eachother, especially in the back. This type of movement is planned for and accommodated by your retainers.

Types of Retainers

There are two general categories of retainers: Removable and Fixed (glued in). There are pros and cons to each retainer type. Often, the way your teeth started will play a role in which type of retainer we recommend. Regardless, when it comes time to plan for retainers, we will have a group discussion (patient/parent/doctor) to make sure the best option is chosen for each patient.

Removable Retainers

Removable retainers are self-explanatory – you can take them out! They can be made for your upper arch and your lower arch.

  • Sometimes we will recommend a clear version, called an Essix retainer, that looks like Invisalign. It covers all surfaces of all teeth.
  • Sometimes we will recommend a wire and plastic retainer, called a Hawley. This is the type that Mike Wazowski has in Monsters, Inc. They can be fabricated with any imaginable pattern/color/symbol.
  • If you have significant night-time grinding and/or TMD issues, we may recommend having your dentist fabricate a night guard that will replace one of your retainers. The fee for a night guard is something to discuss with your dentist.

Fixed Retainers

Fixed retainers are glued to the inside (tongue side) of your front teeth. They are commonly placed on the back of the lower front six teeth (canine to canine). Due to the nature of an ideal bite, with the lower front teeth biting against the back of the upper front teeth, it is often not possible to place a fixed retainer on the upper. There are a few exceptions to this rule, that we will discuss if they apply to you.

Fixed retainers are nice because they are always in! However, they make flossing more difficult. They are only an option for patients with EXCELLENT dental hygiene. If you would like this type of retainer, then be sure to demonstrate superb hygiene habits while you are in active treatment!

Fixed retainers are permanent in the sense that you cannot remove them, but they are not permanent in the sense that they will last forever. With time, after being exposed to the oral environment and biting forces, your fixed retainer may break or become unglued. When this happens, come find us (or your local orthodontist) immediately. We will chat with you about the pros/cons of repairing/replacing the fixed retainer, or changing to a removable option.

Wearing Retainers

Retention is night-time for a life-time!

Because retention is so important and such an integral part to successful orthodontic treatment, they are included with your treatment plan. Meaning, they are neither optional nor an additional cost.

We will give you specific wear and care instructions when you receive your retainer. But, expect that we will ask you to wear your retainers every night indefinitely, or for as long as you want to keep your teeth straight.

We will continue to check your teeth, bite, and retainer fit periodically for the first 18-24 months after active treatment. At that point, we will give you a big hug and say, “Come find us if you need us! And don’t quit wearing your retainer!” Anytime your retainer is lost or broken, call us right away to repair or remake it. Should you move away and lose or break a retainer, find a local orthodontist asap.